Bruins Hope To Make More Than Just A “Cameo” In Stanley Cup Playoffs

Charlie Coyle Cameo

(Photo Credit: Cameo)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here. Finally (and hopefully safely).

And if your Boston Bruins want to make anything more than a “Cameo” in their pandemically-delayed second season, then perhaps they need to take a virtual page from their recent online success stories!

While we all waited for hockey with bated breath — and at many times even held our breath under the literal and figurative mask of COVID-19 — the B’s made the most of their time away from TD Garden and connected with fans in the most clever, creative and community-oriented of ways.

Those connections resonated with people across not only Boston and New England, but also the U.S.A, Canada and the world thanks to Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and most recently the social media site Cameo, which sets up virtual “shout outs” from celebrities and sports stars to anyone willing to make the required financial contribution.

The B’s offered (and still offer) an assortment of opportunities — everyone from awesome alumni like Andrew Raycroft and Chris Nilan to Boston broadcasters like Billy Jaffe and Dale Arnold to current pro players like Trent Frederic, Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle (as seen in my tweet above).

The messages can be anything from birthday wishes to wedding congratulations to happy anniversary cheersing to Stanley Cup predictions from some of the actual players themselves! Speaking of which… how are we feeling about the B’s chances heading into the most unusual playoff scenario in the history of the sport?

If we throw out the recent exhibition game against Columbus (which we 100% should), then I’d like to think the B’s have one of the best chances to non only contend again for the Cup, but also to win it. And here’s my reasoning why — to go along with NESN’s “five reasons” as tweeted above:

Stanley Cup runner-ups have a taste for revenge victory that’s as insatiable as an over-hibernating bear finally waking up in the winter woods. Hockey metaphors and random mascot coincidences aside, the B’s are exactly both. And as proven recently by the Pittsburgh Penguins, a hungry number two can easily become a fulfilled number one the following season if they make the most of the opportunities and circumstances given to them. The B’s know how to do this. It’s practically in their DNA (and hype video for that matter)!

Which brings me to my next rather fitting and timely reason: when was the last time hockey took a “pause” in play? If you guessed 2013, you’d be correct. The strike-shortened NHL season allowed for quite the Original Six SCF match-up between the Chicago Blackhawks and — guess again — the Boston Bruins, who like last year, came within some puck-luck and a solid save or two from winning Lord Stanley’s coveted chalice yet again this decade (thank goodness for memories of 2011).

So, why not start the next decade with a little history re-writing of their own? If any team in hockey should be feeling NOW is the time to make their mark, and make a winning move, it’s the Bruins. If any team should realize that the MOMENT to rise to championship glory may not be as close as this one, it’s the Bruins. And if any team’s WINDOW could stave off cracking, shattering or breaking for even the slightest bit longer (cheers to you, Zdeno Chara), it’s the Bruins.

After all, cameos are defined as “a brief appearance or role” in a theatrical medium. Well, there’s no bigger theatre in all of sports than the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And you can best “B”-lieve, the Boston Bruins plan to be in it for the long haul!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

User 568316199 · 187: We Honor The Loss Of An Amesbury, Mass. Legend & Give Updates On Recent Bruins News

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

 

Bruins’ Charlie Coyle Named Winner Of NESN’s 7th Player Award

image

(Photo: Winslow Townson / Associated Press)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This afternoon Bruins forward Charlie Coyle was named the winner of NESN’s 7th Player Award for the 2019-20 season, as voted on by the fans. Per NESN, the 7th Player Award is annually awarded to a Bruins player, who has performed above and beyond expectations every day for the good of the team without any expectation to be recognized.

During the regular season, Coyle notched 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points in 70 games, all in the top 10 on the team for each category. The 28-year-old finished the regular season with a plus-nine rating while averaging 16:47 of ice time per game, the fifth-most among Boston forwards.

The East Weymouth, MA, native broke out during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Bruins, recording 9-7-16 totals in 24 games, tied for the team lead in scoring. Since coming over from the Minnesota Wild via trade, the 6-foot-3, 220 pound centerman has 18-25-43 numbers in 91 regular season contests – 2-4-6 in 21 games immediately after the trade.

Originally drafted 28th overall in the first round of the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Coyle has registered 109 goals and 176 assists for 285 points in 570 NHL games between the Wild and the Bruins. In 68 playoff games, the former Boston University Terrier has 16-15-31 totals.

With the award, Coyle will also receive $5,000 to donate to a charity of his choice. Current Bruins to have won the award include Chris Wagner (2019), Charlie McAvoy (2018), David Pastrnak (2017, 2015), Brad Marchand (2016, 2011), Tuukka Rask (2010), as well as David Krejci (2009).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

Anders Bjork Looks Set To Break Out In 2020 NHL Playoffs

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Having a breakout performance in the playoffs can take your career to brand new levels. Someone can go from a third liner, to a super impactful player on a Stanley Cup caliber team. We’ve seen it recently with guys like Jake Guenztel, Nikita Kucherov and even Boston’s own Brad Marchand. And you know what? Nows a pretty good time for another Bruin to join that list, and I think that Bruin can be Anders Bjork. 

Bjork has enjoyed a nice first full (ish) season with the big club. After two seasons cut short to shoulder injuries, there was some worry that the Notre Dame product would never be the same. Thankfully that was not the case. Featured primarily in a 3rd line role, Bjork was able to hit career highs in both goals (nine) and assists (ten) in 58 games. So realistically, could we see the soon to be 24-year-old follow in the aforementioned Marchand’s footsteps?  

Marchand came into the league as a 21-year-old and was incredibly disappointing, putting up a single assist in 20 games. But the following season he was able to put up a very respectable 41 points and more importantly, 19 points in the playoffs. His league-leading 10 even-strength goals helped the Bs capture their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Playing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi helped Marchand become the star he is today. Now with Bjork getting a similar treatment, he can certainly find his way to have a break outperformance.

(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Bjork has succeeded everywhere he has played. He was on the same U18 Developmental Team as Jack Eichel, Alex Tuch, and Dylan Larkin, finishing 5th on the team in scoring. When he reached the college level, he was always the best player on the ice for the Fighting Irish. He was a Hobey Baker finalist in his final season in college, touting the “A,” he scored 21 goals and 52 points in just 39 games.

The lefty had a lot of success at the World Juniors as apart of team USA that had studs like Auston Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk, and Zach Werenski on it. He was featured on the 2nd line with Christian Dvorak and Sonny Milano for most of the tournament, putting up three goals in the seven games. Most importantly scoring two goals in the bronze medal game, one of which was UNREAL.

There’s a bit in question regarding David Pastrnak (and now Ondrej Kase) and his availability at the moment. While I don’t think his absence will carry over into the playoffs, the Bruins would still be in good hands with Bjork on their top line. The Wisconsin native has had success playing beside the dynamic duo of Marchand and Bergeron. When paired together, the trio has produced a GF/60 rate of 4.02. For comparison, with David Pastrnak to the right, the line has a 3.63 GF/60. But even if he isn’t on the top unit, there’s no reason he can’t succeed on the 3rd line as Marcus Johansson and company did last postseason. 

Bjork has developed some great chemistry with Charlie Coyle on the third line. Their combination of speed and skill makes them a dangerous duo in all ends of the ice. The two are excellent possession players, and it gives coach Bruce Cassidy the option to roll his lines in any way he pleases. Bjork’s two-way play has been a much-improved area in his game, making him far from a one-dimensional player. His hockey IQ is up there with the best on the Bs, and with all eyes on him, it’s a perfect time to show everyone how good he really is.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 186 that we recorded below on 7-20-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Lineup Questions Facing The Bruins Going Forward

Bruins score 4 in 1st to chase Holtby, beat Capitals 7-3

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/AP

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

While it’s not completely set in stone, things are trending in the right direction towards the NHL returning to play. The Bruins are going to be competitive no matter what lineup they put together, but there are certain line combinations that could work better than others. With two new forwards, Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, getting some of their time to get acclimated cut short, it’s important that the coaching staff puts them in ideal situations as soon as possible.

The second and third forward lines

There are so many different ways that these lines can be put together, but there is one in particular that sticks out to me the most as the best option. Putting the lines together in this fashion would essentially give the team a line 2a, 2b situation because the lines are so balanced.

Ritchie – Krejci – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

There’s no doubt that Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, and Ondrej Kase could find success together if that is how the second line is constructed, but I like this option a bit better. Ritchie and Kase have some familiarity together from their time as teammates in Anaheim, as well as Boston for a brief period of time, obviously.

Ritchie on the left-wing gives the line a physical boost and someone who can get pucks deep, make defenders sweat behind the net on the forecheck, and bring a formidable netfront presence. Couple those abilities with a savvy playmaker like Krejci, and a speed demon with great hands and shooting ability like Kase, and you have a dangerous line.

Moving DeBrusk down to the third-line left wing adds even more speed on the wing combined with Anders Bjork on the right-wing. The DeBrusk-Coyle-Bjork line has been pretty effective together in the past, and would give the Bruins an excellent third line. Speed to burn and plenty of skill on the wings, and an all-around beast in Charlie Coyle in the middle. Structuring the middle-six forward group this way gives the lineup the most balance in that area, in my opinion.

Karson Kuhlman and Chris Wagner

With the top line obviously intact, and the middle-six structured the way it is, that leaves the Bruins with a small quandary on the fourth line. With Par Lindholm most likely being the extra forward, it comes to down to who plays right wing, Chris Wagner or Karson Kuhlman.

I think they should roll with a committee at the position. Both are effective fourth-line players, so a committee would be ideal. If it gets to a point where one player is playing much better than the others, then roll with that player.

Jeremy Lauzon vs. Connor Clifton

The same thing goes for the third defensive pairing, who plays with Matt Grzelcyk? John Moore likely being the extra defenseman, leaves them with Jeremy Lauzon or Connor Clifton to play with Grzelcyk. Both players have had solid seasons and bring similar skill sets – defensemen that play physical and can move the puck effectively. A committee between the two gives the team more flexibility.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner/Kuhlman

Lindholm

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Lauzon/Clifton

Moore

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Luckily for the Bruins, these lineup questions aren’t too pressing. They can be seen as good problems to have, and that’s how I view them. They’re in a great position as the league inches more and more towards returning to play.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

What Could the Bruins’ Power Play Look Like Next Year If Krug Leaves?

( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

As I’m sure most of you reading this know, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Krug is one of the top power-play quarterbacks in the NHL, and he’s improved greatly at both ends of the ice at even strength in recent years as well. He’s also become a good leader on and off the ice. Contrary to what some still think, Krug is an extremely important player to the Bruins, and losing him will create a huge hole on the back end that won’t be easily filled.

Thankfully, both the team and Krug want him to stay, so hopefully, he does. But an agreement hasn’t been reached yet, and it’s still possible one never will be. I don’t think that’ll be the case, but since it’s possible, we should start thinking about what things could look like without Krug. So, I decided to take a look at what the first power-play unit could look like next year should Krug depart.

Current PP Structure

Before I get too far into this, I thought it’d be good to provide a refresher of the way the Bruins structure their first power-play unit. The Bruins use four forwards and one defenseman on their PP in the 1-3-1 format. Krug is the point man, Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak are the attackers (bumper, right half-wall, and left elbow, respectively), and DeBrusk is the net-front presence.

This is the typical structure of it, but the true beauty of the Bruins PP is how fluid it is. You’ll often see Marchand (or even Pastrnak) switching positions with Krug, or Pastrnak switching with DeBrusk, among many other switches. While they may technically have an assigned spot, they rarely stay in it the whole time, and it’s a big reason why the Bruins’ PP is as successful as it is. Krug is a big reason why they are able to do this because, as an offensive-minded defenseman, he is very comfortable jumping up in the offensive zone, as evidenced by his point totals.

Keep The Same Format

( Photo Credit: John Minchillo/Associated Press )

The easiest option if Krug departs is to keep the same format (four forwards, one defenseman, 1-3-1 set-up), and plug either McAvoy or Grzelcyk into Krug’s point spot. Both McAvoy and Grzelcyk have proven that they’re able to man the PP, as they run the second unit and sub in for Krug if he’s hurt. They aren’t as good as Krug, but they’re capable and will likely improve if given more time there. Unfortunately, though, if McAvoy or Grzelcyk was the point man, the PP would likely not be as fluid.

While both players are comfortable jumping up into the offensive rush, they aren’t quite as offensive-minded as Krug. So, I have my doubts that either of them would be comfortable rotating around as much as Krug does, or at least they wouldn’t be for a while. So, this style of PP would be less effective for the Bruins not only because Krug wouldn’t be there, but because it wouldn’t be as fluid and therefore it’d be just like everyone else’s, and so teams will be better prepared to defend it. So, Cassidy has reportedly been considering another option, one that no other team currently uses in the NHL.

Five Forward Unit

According to this article by Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, if Krug leaves, Cassidy is considering a first PP unit made up of all forwards. Please note, much of what was said in that article I fully agree with, so I am not simply parroting what he said. I actually hold the same opinions that he does on this. Moving on, this PP structure has the potential to either be really good or really, really bad. The reason teams don’t do this is that obviously when they’re on the PP, they want to lower the chances of a shorthanded goal being scored.

Having a defenseman man the point (most of the time) does that. Anybody who watches a lot of hockey can tell you that defensemen are almost always far better at transitioning and skating backward than forwards are. Plus, they obviously know their defensive positioning angles better. If you stick a forward back there, it’s probable that opposing teams will take more chances shorthanded to know they aren’t as equipped to handle it. As a result, they’ll likely score more shorthanded goals, which is obviously not what you want.

However, this may not be the case with the Bruins, and I can see why Cassidy is at least considering it. The Bruins have several forwards who would be capable of manning the point and handling a shorthanded break should one happen.

( Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press )

Krejci is the first player who comes to mind as a forward who would be good at quarterbacking the PP. He’s one of the smartest players on the team, so he would likely be fine with his positioning on a shorthanded chance. Also, because of his high hockey IQ, he’d be able to handle rotating with some of the others a lot, thus allowing them to keep the fluidity they have. That’d also make it so the point responsibilities wouldn’t all fall on him.

Plus, he’s a pass-first guy, making him perfect for manning the point on the first unit because he’ll have plenty of eager shooters to pass to. But, Krejci also has a great one-timer and isn’t afraid to use it, so if the opportunity presented itself, he could also rotate down one of the walls, particularly the left one. His ability to slow the game down is incredible as well, which is a skill that is very useful for the guy operating the point on the PP to have. In short, a five forward unit of Krejci, Pastrnak, Bergeron, Marchand, and DeBrusk has the potential to be lethal offensively as well as sound defensively.

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/Associated Press )

Another forward that could work well as the point man is Coyle. He’s a solid skater all around, and he has a good hockey IQ, so he’d probably be able to contain shorthanded chances fairly well. He probably wouldn’t be as likely to rotate all over the place, but I think he’d be capable of it, so it’d still be an option, just to a lesser extent probably. Coyle also has a nice shot, so if the best option was to shoot, he’d probably be able to get it through a fair amount of traffic. He’s also great at passing and setting others up, so regardless of what the best option was, he’d be able to handle it well. 

If the Bruins are going to go with this, they really need to pick a center to be the primary guy to man the point. They have other options that could work, but centers are often (but not always) better at skating backward and playing defensively than wingers are, and in the case of the Bruins, they have two great all-around centers (besides Bergeron) to choose from. Both Krejci and Coyle would likely be fine handling the point, although I’ll have to give the edge to Krejci, given his incredible vision and ability to slow the game down.

So, What’s the Best Option?

All of this being said, I’m not sure we can say with much certainty which option would be better for the Bruins if Krug leaves. At first glance, it seems like they’d be better off just sticking to the usual 4F/1D, but at the same time, the 5F format could be really interesting. No other team uses it, so teams wouldn’t be as good at defending it. Plus, unlike some other teams, the Bruins have some solid options for forwards to run the point that would not only be good offensively but would be capable defensively as well.

So, in the unfortunate (and in my opinion unlikely) event that Krug leaves this offseason, I think we see Cassidy try the 5F configuration for at least a few games. He’s certainly not afraid of mixing things up and trying new things, and this could end up being really successful. If it goes well, he’ll keep it, and if not, it’ll be easy for them to revert back to the old format.

Or, it’s possible that he could practice both and have them as options, so depending on the opponent or how the PP is playing, they could switch it up. Regardless of what they do, though, the PP wouldn’t be the same without Krug. He’s a huge part of why it’s so successful, so no matter which option they choose, it probably won’t be as good as it is right now. But hopefully, they’ll be able to find a way to minimize the damage caused by Krug’s departure should it unfortunately happen.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

What The Bruins Forward Lines Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I think we all need hockey back in our lives ASAP. Thankfully the return is getting closer and closer by the day. But as hockey comes back, a lot of questions come back as well. The Bruins, especially after a pretty busy trade deadline, have one of the deepest and most interesting forward cores in the league. With such a competitive group and only a limited number of spots, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Bs forwards lines shake up. Here’s my best guess at what we see. 

1st Line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

It’s going to be reeeeally fun to see these guys dominate again. Obviously if the rest of the lines stall and aren’t able to generate offense, we’d likely see Pasta on the 2nd line to spread the wealth a bit, but there just isn’t a better line in hockey. To have a line that sports an 100 point player, Selke winner, and now Rocket Richard winner is something no other line in the league can do. 

Over the past three years, the trio has combined for 312 goals and 726 points in 625 games. Their success has been unparalleled by the rest of the league and man, I haven’t even started to talk about what they do in the playoffs. Obviously Marchand and Bergeron have a cup to their name and with the way Pastrnak has played in the postseason, I don’t think he’s too far behind. And for all of the advanced analytics guys, how does a combined 56.1 corsi sound? There’s not much more to say about the excellence of the three, so I’ll just move onto the more interesting lines of the Bruins. 

2nd Line: Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

(Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The age old question. Who the hell is playing on David Krejci’s wing? Well I think the Bruins may have found that answer in Ondrej Kase. The young Czech native does a lot well, but the most important thing for him (and the Bruins) is that he puts up points AT EVEN STRENGTH. Two seasons ago, Kase potted 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games and guess what, 19 even strength goals, 35 even strength points and five game winners. The next year he scored just one PP goal out of his 11 in total and didn’t score a single goal this season with a man up. If Kase can stay healthy, I think Krejci may have a permanent resident to his right. 

The other two members on the 2nd line aren’t too much of a surprise in David Krejci and Jake Debrusk. The veteran and the young winger have built some solid chemistry over the past couple years, and while they’ve been a bit streaky at times, when the two are on their game, it’s a major asset for the Bruins 2nd line. 

Everybody knows how lights out playoff David Krejci is. He’s led the league in playoff scoring twice, including in the Bruins’ cup victory in 2011. When intensity is at its peak, Krejci always seems to step to the plate and his winger Debrusk has started to follow in his footsteps. We saw Debrusk’s flair for the dramatic in the playoffs of his rookie year. He lit it up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, scoring five goals (including this beauty) and seven points in seven games. 

3rd Line: Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

(Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Outside of Charlie Coyle slotting in at 3C, the bottom six is basically all up for grabs. The Bruins and coach Bruce Cassidy have a lot of options. They could go young and fast, they could go with a more defensive outlook, they could try and out-muscle, or (like I have) a mix of all three: grit, size and speed. 

Nick Ritchie is a big dude. At 6’2, 234 pounds, the former Duck knows how to throw his body around. He averages over 200 hits a season and we saw pretty quickly that he knows how to drop the mitts. The winger has a surprisingly good set of hands in tight, and is not forgein to dishing out some A+ passes. Ritchie spent a lot of minutes in Anaheim centered by Ryan Getzlaf, and his new center in Charlie Coyle, has a lot of similarities to Getzlaf. He’s a big, strong center, just maybe with a bit more hair.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle may have been the best move Don Sweeney has made in his tenure as GM of the Bruins. After a slow start to his career in Boston, the Boston University product was a major part of the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. With Coyle anchoring the 3rd line, it gave Cassidy the option to simply roll four lines. On a line that was money all playoffs, Coyle put up nine goals and 16 points to go along with great 200 foot play. 

And then that leaves Anders Bjork. He’s got skill, he’s got speed, he’s got high hockey IQ and he finally began to put it all together this season. After a couple injury riddled years bouncing between the NHL and AHL, the Notre Dame grad finally found some consistency to his game. He’s looked stronger, more confident with the puck and most importantly, has been able to drive a play by himself. His 19 points in 58 games aren’t going to blow you away, but he’s got all the little things down, the points will start to come. 

4th Line: Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Karson Kuhlman

(Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Aside from Sean Kuraly, the usual members of the 4th line have not had the same success as they had last season. Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom have been far from bad, but they haven’t been as effective. So instead of the veteran Wagner on this line, I think Karson Kuhlman should get the nod. My reasoning? Speed. The entire league is going to have fresh legs, so having a guy who’s as tenacious as it gets on the forecheck with wheels is going to be key. We saw what Kuhlman can bring to the table in a handful of the regular season and playoff games and, he never looked out of place. In the playoffs, the waterbug ripped a goal (which was unreal) and had two assists in eight games. 

Like I said before, I think Kuraly is a shoo-in for a spot in the lineup when the Bruins return. He’s been as clutch as you can get when the playoffs begin. We saw it against Ottawa, we saw it against Toronto (a lot) and into the finals against St. Louis. He’s got a lot of skill for a bottom-six forward and has the perfect mix of size and speed. 

Stanley Cup winner Joakim Nordstrom (yeah, he won a cup) was awesome in the playoffs last season. After we curiously saw the speedster to the left of David Krejci a few times in the regular season, Nordstrom took off as a fourth-liner. He just works incredibly hard, winning puck battles and cutting off passing and shooting lanes. In 23 postseason games, the Swede had three goals, eight points and was second among Bruins forwards in blocked shots. 

As for the rest, we’ll certainly see Chris Wagner and Par Lindholm as defensive, able bodies. But I also think we get to take a look at some prospects from the AHL in the playoffs, you can take a look at who I think will have a shot here

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Who Could Get The Call From Providence When Playoffs Begin?

Frederic Looking to Seize Opportunity
(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s all but confirmed that we will be getting playoff hockey in the summer. But with this massive break between action, there is certain to be plenty of rust for this Bruins squad. With the season entering sink or swim mode, the Bruins don’t have the luxury to let everyday starters get out of their funk. Coach Bruce Cassidy will have some tough decisions to make if his NHLers aren’t up to the task, but the Bs have plenty of talent in Providence that will be chomping at the bit to see some ice in the Playoffs, especially with the increased roster space. Here are a few reinforcements from the AHL that I’d like to see if Boston runs into any issues.

Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images )

Trent Frederic figured out pretty quickly how to become a fan favorite in Boston. By dropping his mitts in his first NHL game, he showed what type of player he really is. The 6’2, 203-pound center is tough as nails and would be a welcome presence to have in the bottom six. Remember earlier this season when the Bruins had no response for Tuukka Rask getting run over against the Blue Jackets? Well, Frederic certainly wouldn’t let that go.  

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

We’ve seen the St. Louis native here and there with Boston, playing with the big club for 17 games in his brief career. And after watching those 17 games, you can’t question what the youngster brings to the table. He’s a big, strong and physical player with a gnarly edge to his game. The AHL penalty minutes leader would seamlessly slide into the intensity of playoff hockey.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire- Getty Images )

In his first year as a pro, Studnicka looked anything but out of place. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals while reaching his first career All-Star Game in the process.  The rookie potted 23 goals to go along with 26 assists in 60 games, helping Providence have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The young centerman has WHEELS.

The former 2nd round pick hasn’t been shy from showing up in big games. In his OHL Playoff career (aside from his rookie campaign) Studnicka has potted 11 goals and 31 points in 27 games. How’s this for a stat line for an NHL debut? 1 assist, plus-1 rating, 67% on draws in 14:30 of ice time. Not too shabby for someone thrust into a prominent 2nd line role. Adding a guy as dynamic as Studnicka to an already potent 3rd line could be just what the Doctor ordered for the Bruins. 

Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press via AP )

Has he found the scoring touch he had in Juniors? No. Has he been lighting up the AHL? No. Has he been as good as the other 2015 1st rounders that seem to follow him wherever he goes? No. Buuuuut when he was finally given the chance to impact the big club, he looked like he belonged in the NHL. 

In his short stint with the Bruins earlier this season, the former Greyhound was a part of a dynamic 3rd line with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle. Despite the minimal ice-time he got, Senyshyn showed off why he still has the pedigree of a 1st round pick. He and his linemates were buzzing around, creating a high possession, high energy 3rd line the Bruins had hoped to get. The now 23-year-old was enjoying a nice start to his 2019 NHL season with two assists (and if you remember, a goal that probably should’ve counted) in just three games until an unfortunate injury in his fourth game essentially cost him the rest of his season in Boston. 

As for defenders? I’m not sure we see any jump up from the AHL. We already saw Jeremy Lauzon jump into the NHL as smooth as one could, and with Connor Clifton coming back from an injury, I can’t see a guy like Urho Vaakanainen pushing any of them for a spot but with everything that has happened so far in 2020, you never really know.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 182 that we recorded below on 6-7-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Boston Bruins Prospect Season Review: Trent Frederic

trentfred

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Trent Frederic came into the season with some buzz surrounding him. The 2016 first-round draft pick had just come off of his first professional season in which he netted 14 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 25 total points in 55 games played (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The young center had also spent some time in Boston that season. He quickly became a fan favorite winning a fight in one of his first games.

There was talk at the beginning of the year that Frederic could potentially grab one of the bottom-six center positions out of training camp. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards this year. The young center would spend all but two games in Providence. It was a less than ideal start to the season for Frederic. He would only register five points, all assists in his first 15 games (stats courtesy of the AHL). Despite the slow start, he would go on to have a fantastic season. In 59 games, he netted eight goals while dishing out 24 assists for 32 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

This is the type of season you’d like a young player to have in their second year. Assists, shots, and points were all up from his previous season. This shows growth. Frederic was able to round out his game more and find his playmaking ability. Some people may be concerned about the drop in goal production. I am not because his shooting percentage went from 13.7% to 6.1% (stats courtesy of AHL). One area of Frederic’s game that needs serious work is penalty minutes. He went from 67 to 148 (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

Frederic is a physical player. It’s one of his biggest strengths. His willingness to play physical at any level is going to be a big reason why he sticks in the NHL. One thing the young center will have to manage is knowing when not to cross the line and cause a penalty. Something else that he was able to show off is how defensively responsible he is. Frederic played very well on the penalty kill. You also don’t have to worry bout him in his own zone. It was a very successful second full season for Trent Frederic. It’s one he’ll be able to build upon moving forward.

The biggest question that has yet to be answered regarding Frederic is; what does the future hold? Some people think he’s a potential top-six center. Others think he’s a bottom-six center. When all is said and done, Frederic will likely end up being a middle-six center. The former first-round pick possesses size, strength, skill, and defensive awareness.  He’s able to use his size to shield defenders from the puck and create scoring chances. These attributes are going to allow him to fit in with any team.

The future of the Bruins at the center position looks bright. They have Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and of course, Charlie Coyle signed long-term. Frederic will end up having a good career in Boston, and I cannot wait to watch it unfold. I hope everyone is staying safe during this time. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

The Bruin Who Needs To Have A Stellar Playoff Performance

kuraly 2

(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Last week, the NHL announced its Return to Play action.  The plan allows teams to return to NHL activity based on individual states’ reopening laws and a proposal to begin the NHL playoffs in July.  The Bruins finished the year with the highest point total in the NHL, which awards them the President’s Trophy.  They have also secured a place in the top-4 seed round-robin playoff to determine the seed they’ll occupy for the upcoming playoff.  They can place no lower than fourth and will have a bye for the preliminary round.

Full disclosure, it is quite unfortunate they have to play in a round-robin to determine seed when they finished the year as the best regular-season squad.  Alas, the Bruins, and every other team will play by the rules, and we’ll hopefully see the Bruins occupy the top seed.

The year they won in 2011, the Bruins were the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.  During that year, every player on the team had a significant moment and played their best hockey.  The top two lines will always be relied on and are obvious choices to bring their A-game every night.  We’ve seen teams’ third-lines become even more impactful throughout the years and are heavily relied on.  Charlie Coyle has filled that void nicely since his trade from Minnesota.  There are a few other players who need to be an X-factor to bring the Bruins their seventh Stanley Cup.  Enter: Sean Kuraly.

Sean Kuraly is in the midst of his fourth professional hockey career.  He has always dawned the black and gold, even though he was not initially drafted by the Bruins.  Kuraly was part of the Martin Jones deal with San Jose.  The Bruins originally received Martin Jones from the Los Angeles Kings, along with Colin Miller and a 2015 first-round draft selection (Jakub Zboril) for Milan Lucic.  Tuukka Rask was still at the helm when the Bruins acquired Jones, so they flipped Jones to the Sharks for a 2016 first-round pick (Trent Frederic) and Sean Kuraly.

Since then, Kuraly has always called Boston home.  He was drafted 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL draft.  He played all four years at Miami University (Ohio), where he amassed 93 points in 154 games.  In his final year at Miami, Kuraly added another accolade to his resume that fits the Bruin mold.

He played three quarters’ of a year with the Providence Bruins in 2016, where he scored 26 points in 54 games and a plus 10 rating.  He joined the Bruins for eight games when the Providence Bruins’ playoffs ended, and never looked back.  He notched his first NHL career assist in and his first NHL career playoff goal in the subsequent playoffs.  Along with his first NHL career goal, he also completed his first multi-goal game.

Kuraly has played almost every position the Bruins have needed him.  He is their Swiss Army knife and has been extremely flexible and adaptable.  Recently, he’s spent most of his time between the third and fourth lines.  The Bruins have been trying out many of their draft prospects throughout the past couple years, and Kuraly has been a byproduct of that.  He’s been able to move throughout the lineup as the Bruins give players like Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman opportunities.  Kuraly has spent most of his 2019-2020 5v5 time with Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom, which means he’s been used primarily on the fourth line.  

Before the season’s suspension in March, Kuraly had been playing alongside Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk on the Bruins’ third-line.  The move seemed to help Kuraly immensely because he scored his fourth goal of the year on the first night he was united with Coyle and DeBrusk in Tampa.  Kuraly’s game caught Head Coach Bruce Cassidy’s eye because in the final game before the suspension, Kuraly logged 17:47 minutes on ice.

His four goals in 69 games are something he will undoubtedly have to fix come playoff time.  Thankfully, if history repeats itself, Kuraly has been known to show up on the NHL’s biggest stage, regardless of his season’s contribution.  He scored 10 points in 20 playoff games last year.  One of his most memorable playoff goals came in another game seven with the Toronto Maple Leafs leaving Bruins fans with even more examples as to why Kuraly is a vital playoff player.

Fourth-line players generally tend to hover around 10-12 minutes on ice per game.  Kuraly should play at least 12 minutes a game during the playoffs, regardless of his line placement.  He is not featured on either powerplay (unless there’s an injury), but he is featured on the penalty kill.  His 112 minutes of penalty kill time this year leads the Bruins’ forward group, according to Natural Stat Trick, making him a crucial piece of their special teams.  The Bruins rank third in the league in penalty kill percentage at 84.3.  The San Jose Sharks hold the top spot at 85.7%.

Kuraly’s adaptability gives him a unique edge on most players.  He can play with any Bruins forward on any given night, and he has.  Kuraly is a left-shot center, which is his natural position.  However, when he played on Coyle’s line, he was placed at left-wing.  He has the incredible ability to play his game and his style on any side of the lineup.  This gives Cassidy the flexibility to plug-and-play Kuraly depending on the lineup he wants to use on any given night.  If Kuraly can replicate or even improve on his 2019 playoffs, the Bruins may end up on the right side of a game seven Cup final.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-31-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Could Bruins Prospect Beecher Jump From The NCAA To The CHL?

( Photo Credit: Kevin Light/Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Covid-19 virus continues to be a thorn in the side of humanity but also in the sports world that many of us loved following on a daily basis before the pause. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel as numbers are dropping in North America, and some pro leagues such as the National Hockey League are looking to get back to work. The NHL has a 24-Team playoff format laid out to start in the next two months in an effort to return to the ice and award a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion. 

Leagues below the professional level are projected to not start their regular seasons on time because they don’t have the financial gain the best hockey league in the world has. Take, for instance, the scenario in the NCAA and the Canadian Hockey League made up of three different entities. The Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League are rumored to start in late October, but the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League may get started months later even as far as January per source. 

I was listening to the 31 Thoughts Podcast hosted by Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek a few weeks ago, and Mr. Marek brought up an interesting thought in when talking about the NCAA. Jeff pointed out that if the collegiate level of hockey has a late start with the continued virus concerns, some athletes may defect to the CHL for an opportunity to play sooner. Listen to the whole podcast and subscribe, of course, but if you’re looking for a timestamp for the start of the topic, it’s at the 33:30 below.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Bringing this to a Boston Bruins related article, Marek mentioned 2018 first-round selection John Beecher and his loophole to possibly defect to the CHL. This might be a bit of a stretch after Beecher just finished his freshman year at Michigan with the Wolverines, but it’s a sneakingly good way to keep his development going and on time. I know some are thinking of waiting it out for the NCAA to get back on track and return to a Mel Pearson coached Michigan club.

I’m a huge fan of whatever decision Beecher, his agent, and Bruins organization see fit for his development moving forward, but the OHL might be an enticing landing spot with increased opportunity. Beecher was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the 2017 OHL Priority Draft but with all intentions of committing to Michigan. The benefitting factor by defecting is the increased games that the OHL plays compared to the mandated 34 in the NCAA. If he decides to cross the border into Canada, and in fact, join the Soo Greyhounds club, his games per season would almost double.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Another thing that Jeff Marek brought up on the aforementioned 31 Thoughts Hockey Podcast was another highly profiled prospect in the Montreal Canadiens organization could do the same. Under the keen eye of former NHL’er and Head Coach Tony Granato of the Wisconsin Badgers is Cole Caufield, who had a tremendous 19-17-36 season in 36 games. Caufield, as Marek mentions in the podcast, was also selected in the OHL Priority Draft, but unlike Beecher in 2017, Cole was selected the following season (2018) by the same Greyhounds club.

There are so many avenues and logistics that have to be considered here about this topic but can you imagine an OHL Greyhounds team with the additions of Beecher and Caulfield with such mainstays as current Soo roster players who had five 25 goal scorers accompanied by six 50 point go-getters in the 2019-20 regular season campaign that had the Hounds appear in 64 games before the arrival of the Covid-19 virus. The Soo ended last season with a record of 29-31-3-1, and if the worlds line together to see this though, if both want to leave the NCAA, of course, they would be solid additions to a potential 2020-21 Greyhounds roster.

I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to the difference between the CHL and the NCAA, but when it comes to the games played a factor that always wins for me in the speed of development. If the Boston Bruins see a serious fit for Beecher in the next season or two, this aggressive approach might be beneficial to that avenue. Also, keeping in mind that as a 19-year-old, Beecher, even though drafted in the CHL would be eligible for the American Hockey League before the age of 20-year-old. 

Like I have mentioned several times before, this is a stretch, but it’s something to consider when thinking about the player and progression timeline. Most Boston Bruins prospect gurus have Beecher making an impact in the next two or three seasons regardless of this article topic, but a planned full 76 game year with the AHL’s Providence Bruins wouldn’t be out of the question and has to be accounted for.

Take B’s prospect Jack Studnicka who also plays up the middle, had a decent first-year pro season in the AHL, and looks to lock up a roster spot when the 2020-21 campaign officially starts. Patience has been key lately for Bruins management when inserting younger talent into the lineup but has also been smart to re-sign team members to give some of that mentioned youth more time in the minor-pro system.

Wolverines Head Coach Mel Pearson has put Beecher in areas to succeed with his versatility. Not sure if this is the idea from Bruins management passed down to the coaching staff of the NCAA club, but it creates a few options moving forward in the forever battle of planning ahead and prospect NHL timelines. Just think of the possibilities at the center positions in the next few seasons with the additions of Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and now Beecher awaiting in the midst. The Bruins have been unreal at identifying what’s needed at center and seemingly build around them, and there’s no doubt about that when you think of current members like Patrice Bergeron, Charlie Coyle, and David Krejci. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!